Sunday, June 25, 2006

Adventures in logic 2

So here is the lede on a Saturday story in one of South Carolina's newspapers:
If the early bird indeed gets the worm, Clemson should have little problem staving off the Owls.

The Tigers’ 2006 season opener, a Sept. 2 non-conference game against Florida Atlantic, will kick off at 1 p.m., the school announced late Friday.

The game will not be televised.

It is the only game, among the five with known start times, slated to begin before 3:30 p.m. Two of the five are night games.

Kickoff times for Clemson’s other seven regular-season games will be set 12 days before the game to accommodate television networks.
Let's run through the logic on this:
1. Early bird gets worm.
2. Owls (Florida Atlantic) are birds.
3. They have the early game among those scheduled so far, so the Owls should "get" the "worm," whatever the heck that is. But, hey, what's a lousy metaphor and trite expression among friends?
4. Therefore, Clemson should have no problem defeating the Owls.
5. Huh?

Of course, the writer was trying to be cute in suggesting that somehow Clemson was the early bird with a 1 p.m. game. Dang that the other team had to have a bird name.

On second thought, let's just put this in the growing file of dumb ledes* fashioned in a misguided attempt to be "conversational."

Look, such ledes are fine on stories that deserve them, but on the other stuff, like this story that is barely more than a brief (for space purposes here, I knocked off the bottom three grafs, which are just a recitation of the games and times), get to the news:
Only one of the five Clemson games for which starting times have been announced so far will begin before 3:30 p.m. Two of the five are night games, Clemson said Friday.

The Tigers will begin the season at 1 p.m. on Sept. 2 in a nonconference game against Florida Atlantic. The game will not be televised.

Kickoff times for Clemson’s seven other regular-season games will be set 12 days before each game to accommodate television networks.
(Note also: This is 2006. No need to say the 2006 season. When you use a year, people sort of mentally have to reach for a calendar. Avoid it when possible. Use last year, this year, or next year when necessary. And nonconference -- one word -- is correct AP style under the idea that if you can put "not" in front of the word and it makes sense it's one word (not conference).)
*Some other candidates already addressed: Gratuitous nonsense, Keeping it tight, Backing up the lede, Tin ear ledes.


At 6/25/06, 10:56 PM, Blogger fev said...

Well, I suppose one in the pyem is pretty early for an owl. Otherwise -- jeez, what are they smoking around your state, and did they bring enough to share with the rest of the class?

At 6/26/06, 6:07 AM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

One p.m. is early for me, let alone the owls. We can only hope this outbreak of gratuitous ledius is contained quickly. However, I'm getting shots just in case.


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